When We Were Young(er) #NEHS135

When We Were Young(er) #NEHS135

Wasn’t 1976 just a few years ago? It’s been decided by about 180 classmates at our 40th reunion that 58 is indeed – the new 48. The heck with our biological age. We look fabulous.

rhawnhurst1Our high school class had about 1,100 students – huge by any high school standard. We are the tail end of the Baby Boomers; the beginning of GenX. Stories of life I listened to throughout our event made me believe even more deeply that our lives are certainly what we mold them to be. We share journeys of our lives – loves and likes, divorces and new marriages, triumphs and challenges – all were inspiring.

There were so many faces that I did not remember – until I connected their name on their tag with the 1976 yearbook face; I’d scan up from the name tag to their face – and their 2016 face was now completely in focus. My new impressions of those faces – Elizabeth, Patty, Marci, Nancy, Ed, Eric, another Ed, Frank, Nick, Janet, Margot, Debbie, Temi, and even my Wing Man, Marc, Jack Merle, Sharon, Aaron, Cindi, Ellen, Mark, the other Mark, Bruce, Harris, Abbe, Howard – and so many others – fill the card file in my brain.

As I was getting ready for the reunion, I did not want to go. I had many things to take care of in my present day life, I did not want to revisit the past. Oh, am I img_2533glad I took the time to be with all these people last night. Because of social media, conversations, in many cases were jump-started by, “So, you have a new house in New Hampshire,” and “Wow, I saw you have two grandchildren.” It’s incredible how many times I was ask, “Are you retired?” or “Are you retired – yet?” Geez – that option is really not on the radar screen.

It’s wonderful some folks at the gathering are retired or semi-retired. Many are traveling, sitting back and enjoying the many years of working so hard to create the lifestyle they want at this vibrant age. Someone practically yelled at me when I mentioned I was concerned that we might only have a good 15 years to enjoy our New Hampshire home the way we want to. And we ended that quick conversation with ‘the 70s will be the new 50s.’

img_2531There were people who could not be at the reunion – and I missed seeing them. They had their reasons; if you are reading this – know that so many people asked about you and hope you are well.

So, I put the dress I wore last night back in the closet. I’m downloading some photos and paging through the class of ’76 yearbook one more time before I put it back on the shelf . I’m so grateful for the memories past and now present – adding to my card file of people and their lives that help me forge ahead toward a happy, new beginning.

What’s Next 2016

Taking a moment to reflect pushes me more toward looking forward. When I read about issues and news stories that ask the question, “How could this have been prevented?” I ask the question, “How can we make changes for our children and their children?” My top three changes start CO2016_09with mind and body.

1. During this year, my hope is to daily, say or do (or at least think) something positive about or to another person. Enough with the negativity; it gets you no where and probably adds to the lines in my face. So, enough. As much or as best as possible, smile, and respond with, “I hear what you’re saying.” Do we really think we’re going to change another person’s mind when they are loaded for bear and ready to take someone’s head off? People don’t change that much; it makes more sense to take positive energy; shrug to yourself and perhaps try to think something positive about that negative person. Plus, I’d like to record weekly, a positive outcome for that week – business, family/friends, personal or something out of the ordinary.

2. After two body part replacements since 2011, I have learned that fitness Sunset7_06is supreme. I get through each workout day in a positive way; my nutrition is key and adds to my positive mindset. For 2016, this journey will continue:

  • Start each day with 20 sips of water (thank you #NBCJennaWolf);
  • Two-three workout days per week with stationary bike action at the house in between and more outside recreation.
  • #OptOutside is tough. We get caught up at the office – which for me is my home – and it’s difficult to carve out at least 30 minutes outdoors. This, I will work on.

DB_BJB_Settlement_April2011 - Copy

3. Date night keeps things fresh. This is our 25th anniversary year. Marriage is a partnership that grows, ebbs, flows and evolves. It is never perfect. At least once a month – beyond the usual outings – we’ll go to a comedy club, enjoy something cultural and take turns yielding to the other when it comes to things we enjoy doing.

Whatever fits in your world, resolve to make it happen. Find what makes you happy and set out to accomplish the goal – no matter how small or large. Your positive action will sustain you; the positive karma may catch on you those around you and be infectious in a very positive way.

 

When the Goin’ Gets Tough

When the Goin’ Gets Tough

ImageThe heart of any business or personal success is the team you have working on each and every detail.

Look at the Louisville Cardinals team and how those young men banded together to bring home the Midwest Regional trophy while teammate Kevin Ware was carried off the court after suffering a horrendous broken leg. While teammates convulsed in shock and tears streamed down the faces of thousands who watched Ware’s leg snap, the team pulled it together and rallied to put the lid on the regional championship.

I am working with a team of volunteers from Sustainable Cherry Hill and staff members from Cherry Hill Township to put on for the South Jersey region, the 4th Art Blooms Earth Festival. Everyone has a part to play. Volunteers worked with the township police department on safety and route planning for the family-fun bike ride that opens the festival at 9 a.m. Today, I met with John Martorano of Magnum Computer Recycling to find the easiest site location so visitors to the festival April EF2012_20120428_0327th can bring e-waste for safe recycling and disposal. I worked with the Cherry Hill Food Outreach Council which will have a donation station at the festival for non-perishable foods. One of our volunteers has coordinated the entertainment schedule to include several chorus and dance groups and musicians to perform throughout the event. It’s an amazing experience to work with people and maintain a ‘can-do’ attitude so everyone achieves most of what they hope for.

Attitude is everything when it comes to a project involving many people. To have even one team member who seems to work against the grain, can ruin the experience, if not the event, for everyone. The Louisville Cardinals could have folded after they saw what happened to Kevin Ware. The injured Ware yelled to the team to win the game as he was carried out of the stadium. Some hiccups can threaten any event and lead you down the path of ‘CAN’T-do.’ With the team I am fortunate to be associated with – township and Sustainable Cherry Hill – plus our amazing sponsors and supporters – the Cherry Hill Earth Festival and the family-fun bike ride Saturday, April 27th – will be another step toward helping the community and region focus efforts on sustainability in home, work and play.

Brilliant – Philadelphia Flower Show Perspective

Do you need a burst of spring while winter swipes at us for a few more weeks? Visitors from the Philadelphia region and from Philadelphia Flower Showaround the world visit during the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. The scent of fresh-grown flowers and the potpourri of color is always a reminder that spring is less than three weeks away. Granted, the winter months here have been kind to us in the Philadelphia region. For those who are buried under feet of snow and ice, please enjoy just a tiny piece of this year’s show with a theme from the Brits – “Brilliant.”

Ya Got To Have Friends

Nearly 24 years ago, Doug and I met. We met through a group that formed out of the kindness and creativity of a man named Carl. That group of singles – then called Voorhees Single Professionals – was created long before the internet, Match.com or any other online dating service. Carl created the group out of a desire to connect single people in their 20’s and 30’s to a social life that was tough to find beyond the bar scene at the time. An earlier article in the Philadelphia Inquirer mentioned the beginning of the group in the fall of 1989.

Day10_20100817_27Tonight, more thanĀ  23 years later, Carl, his wife Ramona, Rick, Mary, Doug and I – who all met because of this group – had dinner together. I am exhausted. It was as though we had just left a group meeting and had planned weeks of events. We now are planning to get together for a boat ride – the six of us – on the Chesapeake – this coming summer. Ramona volunteered to start a Facebook page so we can begin to plan a September 28th ‘reunion’ of sorts. We want to revisit what Carl started so many years ago – a group of people who want to get together for social activities – a MEET market he proclaimed at the time – NOT a MEAT market – which was the big problem for singles.

The six of us met at our house for drinks and appetizers for about an hour. Our kitchen was filled with non-stop talk. Catching up; talking about our children – successes – failures; things on the horizon. When it came time to leave for our dinner reservation, we continued to talk. The car ride went by in a flash.

At the restaurant, we ordered and continued to catch up on each others’ lives. We talked about people who have passed away; who’ve divorced – but best of all, we reminisced about how each of us met. To remember those days as if they happened yesterday makes you feel as if everything that you’ve gone through – suffered through – survived – is even more meaningful.

What it all comes down to is – as the character Billy Crystal played in “City Slickers” said is ONE thing: if it were not for Carl and his one idea to put an ad in the local shopper’s guide and reserve the community hall in Voorhees on that September night in 1989 – none of us would have met. Our lives would be completely different.

Thank you Carl – forever; we love you. And we’ll plan that reunion for September 28, 2013.

Save The Camden Children’s Garden

Camden’s reputation for being among the most violent city’s in the nation overshadows the many good organizations and people who work tirelessly to improve the poor and often overlooked city.

ChildGarden LogoIn the gray of winter, leaders of the Camden Children’s Garden have been notified that they will have to vacate the site adjacent to the Adventure Aquarium by March 31st. The Garden’s web site indicates ChildGarden4the site was to reopen full-time March 30th. The fight is underway to save The Children’s Garden and the program that has helped provide more than 2-million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for a city that has just one supermarket located a long bus-ride away for many residents.

Please read a message from a friend of mine – Mark Doorley – president of Camden’s Center for Environmental Transformation and give thought to the plight of The Camden Children’s Garden.

ChildGarden5This is an emergency call for action to support a sister non-profit in the city of Camden that is dedicated to environmental justice and food justice. Two weeks ago the Camden Children’s Garden (CCG) received a letter from the State of New Jersey asking that most of their six acre site be vacated by March 31st. Without even talking to the CCG’s staff, the State wants the organization to continue its work of supporting the many community gardens throughout the City. This will not be possible with what the State has in mind for the CCG. It will be reduced to a rather small greenhouse and some office space, losing its much larger greenhouse facility as well as the meeting spaces where workshops are conducted for Camden gardeners year round. Why does the State want to shut down this gem on the waterfront? To make way for a more “glitzy” destination spot, to join the Susquehanna Center and the Aquarium, making this a “destination” spot. This is an outgrowth of a tired economic development plan which claims that if you make “glitzy” destination places, you will attract more people to Camden and those people will spend money in Camden. The glaring flaw with this analysis is that the people come into Camden, closing their eyes til they get to their “glitzy” destination, and they spend their money at these destinations, and that money ends up, in the case of the Aquarium and the new development under discussion, in the pockets of an Alabama-based entertainment company.

The Camden Children’s Garden serves almost every school in Camden, through summer programs and support for school garden programs. Children from throughout the area visit the Camden Children’s Garden for their many activities. The 50,000 seedlings grown by the CCG have brought to harvest 2.1 million pounds of produce for the people of Camden. It is a place where the children of Camden, particularly, can learn about science and nutrition, in a safe and inviting place. In my opinion, this is the kind of “glitz” we want on our waterfront.

There is reason to believe that the State’s move will not stand up under judicial review. There are now over 6,000 people who have joined the Save the Camden Children’s Garden Facebook page, and legislators are working behind the scenes to resolve this problem.

How can we help?

1. Donate to a legal defense fund; information to make tax-deductible donations can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.wordpress.com/legal-fund/

2. Sign the petition to save the Children’s Garden, which can be found at the following link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/558/352/791/save-the-camden-childrens-garden/

3. Come out on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 to support CCG. Attend a press conference at the Garden on Tuesday at 4 PM. It is very important that children who have visited and benefited from the CCG be present at this event. Following the press conference, we will be marching to City Hall to make a presentation and plea to save the Garden to City Council. At the press conference, there will be hot chocolate for children to enjoy! More information on this effort can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/press-release-state-eviction-statement-for-email-rev2-6-131.pdf.

4. Join the Facebook page of Save the Camden Children’s Garden and invite your friends to do the same.

Thank you.

Mark Doorley

President, Board of Trustees

The Center for Environmental Transformation

1729 Ferry Avenue, Camden, NJ 08104

(p) 609.605.3530

(e) president@cfet.org

 

 

No Complaints

I went through the painless process today of having blood work done. It’s the first step in what will be an involved process as I tackle this hip device dilemma. As depressed as I felt the end of last week and into this week, I couldn’t help but realize that I’ll be just fine.

There I was at the lab, rolling up my sleeve for the two minutes it took to have blood drawn. I’m not one to watch the needle go in and the blood flow, so I looked out the window. Snow squalls were whirling around pretty hard at that hour. Outside, a man was wheeling a young woman to a van after she had been at the lab. She appeared to have on her lap what I’ll guess was her entire medial history in a huge binder. The man lifted the woman out of the wheel chair and she maneuvered awkwardly into the front seat of the van.

In that moment, I knew that no matter what happens along the way during my saga, I will probably never be in the position of that young woman: wheel-chair bound; dependent on others to help her do so many things. I think of my friend Dan who has been a quadriplegic for decades and my friends, whose son will need their care for a very long time. What everything really comes down to is – love, family and friends. The rest is just speed bumps; minor glitches; stuff we just have to handle. We fix things – then move on. What counts is how we live and love with other people every day. I have nothing to complain about.